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CARBON BLACK | ADDITIVES


Green moves in carbon black


Environmental concerns continue to play a major part in carbon black developments.Peter Mapleston finds out how suppliers are responding to green pressures


Environmental issues continue to dominate discussion and developments in carbon black for plastics. Whether producing new blacks from old tyres or reducing levels of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH), major and minor carbon black producers are working hard to grow opportunities for this workhorse product, and in doing so providing masterbatchers and compounders with wider choice in terms of “green” solutions. Demand for carbon black recovered from old


tyres (rCB) in the plastics compound supply chain is certainly growing, says Martin von Wolfersdorff at Wolfersdorff Consulting in Berlin in Germany, who closely monitors this market. But supply is still limited. Few companies are currently in commercial production with the types of rCB suitable for plastics (the property requirements for plastics are quite different from those used in rubber com- pounding). “Inspired by recent announcements by Michelin and BASF, many tyre pyrolysis ventures are aiming to go into business all around the world, but the timeline to market is two years or longer,” says von Wolfersdorff. Recovered carbon black differs from regular carbon black in being a composite of carbon blacks used in the tyre feedstock, inorganic (“ash”) content, and organic content from rubber polymers. The ASTM workgroup D36 is currently working on test methods and specifications


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covering rCB, but there is as yet no universally- agreed definition. Specifications will be required, however, as rCB quality consistency is important and can be a challenge to maintain when tyre feedstocks are not controlled. Von Wolfersdorff says markets are exerting a


strong pull, particularly at tyre producers, which interface directly with consumers. Several have set themselves targets for incorporation of rCB into new tyres and/or have invested in tyre recycling companies. Bridgestone, for example, has invested in Delta Energy and is already using rCB in some tyres. Pirelli says it aims for its tyres to have on average 3% rCB content by 2025. And Continental is already at 4% rCB content and wants to be at 10% by 2026.


Michelin is taking a very pro-active approach, having acquired the tyre granulate company Lehigh Technologies and invested in Swedish rCB producer Scandinavian Enviro Systems (the tyre maker is now the principal shareholder). Michelin is also involved in the three-year EU-sponsored BlackCycle project, which commenced in May and aims to develop an integrated approach to producing and using rCB and pyrolysis oil from old tyres. According to its prospectus, the BlackCycle project “has an upcycling ambition, targeting to create a circular economy of the end-of-life tyre (ELT) into technical


November 2020 | COMPOUNDING WORLD 17


Main image: Whether its sustainable sourcing, process improvement, or emission reduction, both new and established players in carbon black are seeking “greener” solutions


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